Going in, the hope was just that the McPherson High School Bullpup boys would be competitive against Shawnee Mission East.
The Lancers were, on average, bigger and more experienced. They were ranked fourth in Class 6A by the Kansas Basketball Coaches Association, a not-inconsiderable feat considering the competition in that classification.
But, after the buzzer sounded in the fourth quarter, a packed Roundhouse exploded as the host Bullpups defeated East 53-40 to claim their 20th total McPherson Invitational title.
“I mean, wow,” McPherson coach Kurt Kinnamon said after the medal ceremony. “Fantastic team, a fantastic victory, a fantastic student section. It was just a really fun night.”
Both teams had a bit of a slow start, with the first bucket not coming until nearly halfway through the first quarter, when McPherson went on a quick 4-0 run sparked by senior Marcus Houghton and continued by junior sharpshooter Ryan Horton, who knocked down a three that brought the crowd to it’s feet with 3:32 left in the period.
East would fight back, thanks to Chase Hanna, who would put the Lancers up with a three-ball at the end of the first frame to make it 12-11.
The score would go back and forth in the early moments of the second quarter, with the game being tied at 18-18 by Connor Rellihan on a three-pointer with 4:10 left in the half, with the Falcons would extend to a 20-18 lead.
Keaton Sorenson knocked down a pair of foul shots to tie it, then tournament MVP Kyler Kinnamon would score four quick points to give the Bullpups a 24-20 lead at the half, which they wouldn’t give up the rest of the ball game.
The Lancers (9-1) would get close in the third, climbing back to within one, but McPherson dug in their heels and refused to give up the lead. A Peter Horton three-point shot right before the buzzer gave McPherson a 33-27 lead going into the final frame.
Hanna, once again, sparked a quick comeback from the Lancers, hitting a three made the score 33-30. Connor Knabe would follow with a layup that pulled East to within one point once again, but a Peter Horton three-pointer would once again trigger a scoring run in the final three minutes of play that gave MHS the 53-40 victory.
Kinnamon finished with 16 points, including a mind-blowing 12-13 from the foul line, in the win to lead all scorers. Sorenson had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the double-double. Sorenson had 34 total rebounds over the three-day tournament. Peter Horton rounded out the McPherson double-digit scoring with 10 points.
Hanna was the closest Lancer to double-figures with nine points, a strong commentary on the Bullpups’ defensive effort.
Page 2 of 2 - “That game was won on the defensive end,” Kurt Kinnamon said. “You hold a team as talented as (Shawnee Mission East) to 40, you’ve done a fantastic job.”
McPherson (9-1) doesn’t have any time to rest on it’s laurels, however, as they are back at it tonight with a road trip to Towanda to face Circle High School (1-10). Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
McPherson — Houghton 3-13 2-6 8; Sorenson 4-10 4-8 12; Kinnamon 2-7 12-13 16; Horton, R. 2-4 2-2 7; Horton, P. 4-6 0-0 10.
Shawnee Mission East — Sublette 0-0 2-2 2; Knabe 1-2 0-0 2; Schneider 2-9 0-0 5; Wentz, V. 2-14 4-6 8; Hanna 3-8 0-0 9; Rellihan 2-3 0-0 6; Tuttle 1-1 0-0 2; Jones 3-4 0-0 6.